Wednesday August 22nd


Stock futures fall slightly on Trump's renewed legal woes

U.S. stock index futures attempted to shake off renewed political worries surrounding President Donald Trump on the day the bull market was set to become the longest on record. Target shares jumped on strong earnings, helping boost futures well off their lows. S&P 500 futures nearly went positive Wednesday morning. The current bull market turned 3,453 days old on Wednesday. In that time, the S&P 500 has skyrocketed more than 300 percent in that time period. On Tuesday, it tied the one that ran from October 1990 to March 2000. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures slipped 12 points, indicating a decline of 23.29 points, while S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 futures also pointed to small declines. Target reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings on the back of its best same-store sales growth in 13 years. The report sent Target shares up by more than 4 percent before the bell. Dow futures fell nearly 100 points overnight at one point after Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer, pleaded guilty to eight counts related to tax fraud, campaign contributions, making false statements to a financial institution, and unlawful corporate contributions. Cohen also admitted to making payments to two women at the direction of Trump. Meanwhile, former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was found guilty on eight counts in a separate case. Five of those counts pertained to tax fraud, two to bank fraud and one to failing to file foreign bank account reports. Also helping to boost sentiment was a Politico report that said a "handshake" deal between the U.S. and Mexico on NAFTA could be announced on Thursday. The report, which cites three sources close to the talks, said that time has been cleared on the White House schedule for the announcement. The report comes as a nine-member delegation from Beijing is set to start talks with U.S. officials in Washington today, with the hope of finding ways to relieve friction between the two nations. The meeting comes as fresh tariffs from the U.S. on $16 billion of Chinese goods are due to come into effect this week, with Beijing having imposed the same amount in retaliatory levies on the States. Later on Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is scheduled to release the minutes from its meeting earlier this month. The release is scheduled for 2 p.m. ET. Asian markets were mixed on Wednesday as investors looked to tariff talks between the U.S. and China later this week, with sentiments lifted by Wall Street's strong Tuesday session which saw the S&P 500 touch an all-time high. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed higher by 0.64 percent at 22,362.55. South Korea's Kospi closed up by 0.14 percent at 2,273.33. The Hang Seng index recovered from its earlier losses to trade higher by 0.53 percent at 3:13 p.m. In the mainland China markets ended the trading day in negative territory, with the Shanghai composite down by 0.7 percent to close at 2,714.61 while the Shenzhen composite was lower by 1.139 percent at 1,454.51. Brent crude oil hit a two-week high above $74 a barrel on Wednesday after an industry report showed a drop in U.S. crude inventories ahead of official government data. The American Petroleum Institute reported U.S. crude stocks fell last week by 5.2 million barrels, more than three times the drop analysts expected. The government's official figures are due at 10:30 a.m. ET (1430 GMT). "The API inventory data published after the close of trading yesterday are lending buoyancy to prices," Commerzbank analyst Carsten Fritsch said. "Thus the official inventory data this afternoon are also likely to show a more marked inventory reduction." Brent crude, the international benchmark, rose $1.22, or 1.7 percent, to $73.85 a barrel by 8:19 a.m. ET (1219 GMT). U.S. crude gained $1.14, or 1.7 percent, to $66.98. Gold prices rose to their highest in a over week on Wednesday, as the dollar eased ahead of minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's August policy meeting and trade talks between Chinese and U.S. officials. Gold prices rose to their highest in a over week on Wednesday, as the dollar eased ahead of minutes from the U.S. Federal Reserve's August policy meeting and trade talks between Chinese and U.S. officials. Gold touched a more than 1-1/2-year low last week. Spot gold climbed 0.3 percent to $1,199.31 an ounce, having touched $1,200.29, its highest since Aug. 13. U.S. gold futuresgained 0.4 percent to $1,204 an ounce.